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NFL playoff picture 2021 – Standings, bracket after Thanksgiving games, plus Week 12 outlook

Welcome to a particular Thanksgiving Day version of our NFL playoff picture. If you saved just one eye on the video games, and even if you happen to watched them intently, we’ve quite a bit to debate. The outcomes of two matchups shook up the playoff standings in each conferences. Among the takeaways:

  • The Buffalo Bills regained supremacy within the AFC East, no less than quickly. The Bills, in fact, may very well be again among the many wild-card contenders if the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

  • The Bills’ win over the New Orleans Saints elevated the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re presently No. 7 within the NFC standings, whereas the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss has them wanting up on the NFC subject.

  • The Las Vegas Raiders‘ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them again in competition to maneuver into the AFC wild-card race ought to a present contender falter.

  • The Cowboys’ lead within the NFC East is not but threatened, however the surging Philadelphia Eagles can now not be discounted within the division race.

We’ve up to date these situations and extra beneath. Look for an additional replace after Sunday’s video games as Week 12 continues.

Jump to: AFC | NFC


No crew has exemplified this unpredictable season higher than the Titans, who received seven of their first 9 video games regardless of dealing with the NFL’s most tough schedule over that stretch. They then launched into a a lot simpler schedule, solely to undergo a surprising house loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to proceed closing the hole within the AFC South, shrinking the Titans’ result in two video games with six to play. (Tennessee received each head-to-head matchups with Indianapolis.) Regardless of whether or not the Colts can catch them, it is tough to view the Titans because the clear-minimize AFC favourite when two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets — who’ve a mixed file of 4-16. And now the Patriots, arguably the most well liked crew within the league, await them on Sunday.

Next up: at Patriots

Even with out quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens managed to take care of their maintain on first place within the AFC North. They have not been fairly for some time, having misplaced to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an additional time win over the Vikings over the previous month. But possibly that is simply how it’ll be for them.

Next up: vs. Browns

Will a convincing win Thursday within the Superdome be sufficient to tug the Bills out of a midseason spiral? They entered Week 12 having misplaced two of their previous three video games, together with an inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-level loss to the Colts. The Bills higher hope they’ve figured issues out, as a result of they’re about to go right into a brutal stretch of their schedule. They will play the purple-sizzling Patriots twice in 4 weeks, with a sport on the Buccaneers combined in there, as properly. But for just a few days, no less than, they’ve returned to the highest of the AFC East.

Next up: vs Patriots (Week 13)



Josh Allen finds Dawson Knox for his second landing of the sport versus New Orleans.

The Chiefs are rolling off their fourth consecutive victory, a streak that has introduced them from beneath .500 to atop the AFC West. There would not appear to be a lot doubt that the Chiefs will likely be among the many seven groups representing the AFC within the playoffs, and extra seemingly than not, they would be the AFC West champion.

Next up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)

It took the Patriots lower than two months to recuperate from their 1-3 begin and even briefly supplant the Bills atop the AFC East. The Bills reclaimed first place with a Thanksgiving win over the Saints, however the Patriots will retake the place in the event that they beat the Titans in Week 12. Five consecutive wins — and 6 of their previous seven video games — haven’t solely given them a division benefit but in addition put them inside cheap vary of the highest seed within the AFC. It’s all in entrance of them now. The Patriots have a fortuitous house sport in opposition to the AFC-main Titans this week then play the Bills twice in a 3-sport stretch subsequent month. If you are judging postseason seedings by how groups are enjoying for the time being, it is tough to look previous the Patriots as one of the best-located crew within the AFC (proper now, in fact).

Next up: vs. Titans

There was a time when numerous individuals had been fearful about Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s well being in getting back from final season’s knee damage. Through 10 video games, we are able to say that the priority was largely unfounded. Just making it by means of 10 video games did not appear a certainty when the season started, however he has the Bengals’ offense buzzing, most just lately with a 32-level outburst in Week 11’s victory over the Raiders. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is giving the Bengals roughly a 50-50 probability of constructing the playoffs, however in a large-open AFC, they’ve completely put themselves in place to be within the December dialog.

Next up: vs. Steelers

The Chargers did every little thing they might to fall out of the AFC’s high seven in Week 11, however within the greatest signal but that they’re turning a nook beneath coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers stopped doing Chargers issues lengthy sufficient to retake the lead. There remains to be quite a bit to query in regards to the Chargers, most notably their particular groups, however they confirmed they’re to be taken significantly within the AFC playoff race.

Next up: at Broncos

In the AFC hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)

The Steelers are winless of their previous two video games and are actually out of the AFC’s high seven. It will not get any simpler once they journey to Cincinnati this weekend.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

The Colts have received three consecutive video games and 5 of their previous six, however previous to Week 11, the standard of the groups they beat wasn’t too spectacular. That modified with a blowout victory at Buffalo. The Colts are trending in all the appropriate instructions, and the Buccaneers are their subsequent check.

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

We can do nothing however tip our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide appeared properly underway throughout a 3-sport shedding streak getting into Thursday’s sport on the Cowboys. They went into AT&T Stadium and received a warfare of attrition, and now have 10 days to arrange for a winnable house sport in opposition to Washington in Week 13.



Anthony Brown is whistled for a cross interference penalty, which units the Raiders up for Daniel Carlson’s successful subject objective in additional time.

Cleveland Browns (6-5)

It’s unbelievable that the Browns have received six video games given the plain influence quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s left shoulder damage is having on his efficiency. Oh, and do not forget the messy presence and departure of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. If you are selecting one crew to fall out of the wild-card race as a consequence of exhaustion, it is the Browns. They have a street journey to Baltimore on deck.

Denver Broncos (5-5)

The Broncos will return from a bye with a .500 file, however consecutive video games in opposition to the Chargers and Chiefs will seemingly knock them farther from the AFC wild-card race.


Let’s tip our cap to the Cardinals, who’ve traveled fairly a journey since their final-minute loss in Week 8 to the Packers. Playing with out quarterback Kyler Murray and extensive receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they’ve gone 2-1 with wins at division rivals San Francisco and Seattle. The Cardinals have turn into the fourth crew in NFL historical past to start out a season 6-0 in street video games and can get their MVP-caliber quarterback again before later. FPI is asking them a digital lock to make the playoffs and giving them a greater than 90% probability to win the NFC West.

Next up: at Bears (Week 13)

In most eventualities, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers are a reliable Super Bowl contender. But what ought to we are saying a few Packers crew that’s shedding key gamers to damage on a weekly foundation? They are nonetheless in actually good condition within the NFC North, main the Vikings by 2½ video games, with a Week 17 matchup in opposition to Minnesota at Lambeau Field looming. But on the very least, the Packers’ depth goes to be examined throughout December soccer.

Next up: vs. Rams

The defending Super Bowl champions broke a mildly alarming two-sport shedding streak on Monday night time with a convincing win over the Giants, a crew that entered the sport ranked No. 23 within the NFL with a median of 18.9 offensive factors per sport. The lane is there for a excessive seed within the NFC bracket, as their remaining schedule consists of solely two groups with successful information (the Colts and Bills).

Next up: vs. Colts

Uh-oh. The Cowboys had been anticipated to take off as soon as they received quarterback Dak Prescott again from damage. Instead, they’ve misplaced three of their previous 4 video games. Their lead within the NFC East just isn’t but threatened; the Eagles would nonetheless be two video games behind within the loss column even when they beat the Giants on Sunday. But it stays an open query whether or not the Cowboys will head into the playoffs as a real contender or will likely be within the postseason just because they’re the least-flawed crew in a weak division.

Next up: at Saints (Week 13)



A referee takes a fall as Tony Pollard takes the kick return 100 yards to the home.

It has been a fast tumble for the “all-in” Rams, who’ve fallen from the highest spot within the NFC to the wild-card picture with two consecutive losses. Regardless, the Rams’ Week 11 bye got here at a superb time. They had two weeks to get newcomers Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. extra acclimated to their program, along with determining why quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown 4 interceptions in the course of the two-sport skid. They higher hope they get it discovered, as a result of their upcoming schedule consists of not solely the Packers however the Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens and 49ers. That will likely be a tricky run.

Next up: at Packers

When you appear to play shut video games each week, the maths says it’s best to no less than win a few of them. The Vikings’ Week 11 victory over the Packers boosted their division and convention information. Both are key classes for tiebreakers, and their 4-2 NFC file is the explanation they’re forward of the Saints and 49ers (whom they play subsequent week) within the NFC playoff standings. Overall, the Vikings have performed in seven consecutive video games which have been determined by seven or fewer factors, a stretch that both has hardened them for a playoff run or will in the end price them entrance into the postseason altogether.

Next up: at 49ers

The 49ers have received three of their previous 4, they usually had been capable of leapfrog the Saints within the wild-card race following Thursday’s motion. No one can say with certainty whether or not the 49ers are really a playoff crew, however generally these issues get determined within the postseason. Their remaining power of schedule ranks No. 25 within the league. One caveat to remember is that the Eagles, one other NFC wild-card competitor, have the NFL’s best remaining schedule.

Next up: vs. Vikings

In the NFC hunt

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

The Eagles even have received three of their previous 4, all of which by greater than 10 factors. And whenever you see two video games apiece in opposition to Washington and the Giants remaining, in addition to a matchup in opposition to the Jets, you see a reasonably favorable schedule for staying within the wild-card race. Philly has a street sport in opposition to the Giants this week.

Carolina Panthers (5-6)

Can the Panthers actually be a playoff contender with a quarterback they signed out of free company and inserted into the beginning lineup inside two weeks? Cam Newton may be Superman, however he is not a magician. Carolina will journey to play the Dolphins on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints (5-6)

That’s now 4 consecutive losses for the Saints since beginning quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee damage. Their offense had zero punch Thursday night time in opposition to the Bills, they usually’re now wanting up on the NFC playoff subject. They’ll play the Cowboys in Week 13, however the one shiny spot is that 4 of their last six opponents have shedding information.


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